The Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST) has announced it’s most recent activity: the formation of three risk-reduction working groups.
The UAST is “an industry-government partnership committed to ensuring the safe operations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).” Announced last summer by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, the team is another of the FAA’s efforts to collaborate with industry on drone integration. “The UAST supports the safe integration of UAS with data-driven safety enhancements and collaboration among members of the UAS industry,” says the group. The UAST is co-chaired by industry leader Ben Marcus, Co-founder and CEO of AirMap, and Earl Lawrence, Executive Director of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office.
The UAST announced that it’s latest meeting resulted in three working groups focused on risk reduction: Loss of Control (LOC), Injury Reduction, and Safety Culture.
Citing numerous reports of drones near manned aircraft, the team says that drone LOC is “a very real safety concern.”
“Due to the number of UAS sightings at extreme altitudes and close proximity to manned aircraft one can reasonably assume a loss of control to be a factor in some of these instances,” says the UAST. “FAA reports, news reports and social media provide many instances of operators losing control of their unmanned aircraft. These sightings and reports warrant the creation of a working group to address this emerging safety issue.”
In addition, the group says that the number of new operators entering the field without a traditional flight background means that a culture of safety must be actively promoted.
The groups is focused on data-driven decisions: the working groups “will analyze currently available data to develop specific safety enhancements.” Focused on the data, the UAST has developed an anonymous Reporting System that will allow drone operators to “self-report” dangerous situations anonymously, providing the team with a valuable information set to use. “The anonymized data will be held by a non-governmental organization and access will be strictly limited,” says the UAST. “Data is critical to the efforts of all the UAST groups.”
The group will also use a small group of industry volunteers to provide flight data.
“In a very short time, the UAST has made great strides toward executing on its mission of developing industry-led safety enhancements,” said Ben Marcus, Industry Co-Chair of the UAST. “The work we’re doing together with our partners at the FAA demonstrates the drone industry’s commitment.”